Most of us have experienced a bothersome ringing, buzzing or hissing in our ears, at least briefly. But when any of these noises are constant or chronic, it becomes difficult to ignore and can negatively impact our life.
If you suffer from tinnitus you are not alone. The American Tinnitus Association reports that more than 50 million Americans experience it. Approximately 12 million seek medical attention while two million are unable to lead normal lives because of it. For so many seeking medical help, they are often told to “just live with it.” Untreated, it can lead to frustration, anger, stress, isolation, anxiety or depression.
What are the causes of tinnitus?
Tinnitus may be caused by a sudden loud noise exposure, which sometimes wears off in a short amount of time, but leaves permanent damage that can affect one’s hearing at a later age. Head trauma or certain medications can lead to tinnitus. The American Journal of Medicine recently reported that aspirin affects hearing and can lead to tinnitus, especially in men under 50 years old.
What can be done to treat tinnitus?
One of the first steps is to have a complete diagnostic hearing assessment. Tinnitus is often present with high frequency hearing loss. An MRI may be ordered by an Otolaryngologist (ENT) to rule out any structural problems that could cause tinnitus. With the presence of hearing loss, hearing aids can be the best course of treatment. Since tinnitus can often be the brain turning up the neural activity due to lack of sound stimulation at certain frequencies from the hearing loss, amplification enables the brain to turn down the sensitivity. Also, the masking affect of amplifying outside sounds significantly lessens the tinnitus.
For those where amplification alone may not be enough or when masking is needed to avoid sleepless nights, there are new hearing aids that have helped many patients who have come into Nilsson Hearing Clinic complaining of tinnitus. The Oticon Agil Pro has proven to be extremely helpful for many people suffering from tinnitus. In addition, the Mind440, developed by the Widex Hearing Aid Company, and the Live™ 9, developed by ReSound, are hearing instruments that use sound therapy and/or sound generating features to address tinnitus hissing and ringing sensations.
The Zen program in the mind440 is a proven sound therapy tool for tinnitus. This program generates soothing tones and harmonic chimes that both masks tinnitus and help you relax, which is an integral part of managing tinnitus. In contrast, the Live uses a TSG (tinnitus sound generator) program that increases the level of background noise while decreasing tinnitus sounds.
You may have seen TV or newspaper ads proclaiming homeopathic solutions such as lipo flavonoids for “healing” tinnitus. Research shows conflicting results, and this remedy, although tempting as a quick fix, has not been proven with any credible results. Tinnitus cannot be healed. What has been proven is tinnitus can be managed through a device that helps the brain accept then ignore unwanted sounds, such as the hissing or ringing.
Please Contact Us for a tinnitus consultation so we can discuss how you can find relief, and not just live with it.